March 01, 2006

Fledgling Homeschool Co-op

Isaiah 40:31 - but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I am not sure how I was nominated to begin a co-op in my new state... since I've never started one before. Nevertheless, God has gathered up a group of like-minded Christian women here around me and somehow we are 8 families strong as of today (just months after we had our first three members). Similar to the movie Field of Dreams ("If you build it, they will come."), our motto seems to be "If HE builds it, they will come." God is doing neat things through this small group of women we meet with. It is also amazing that each one of the ladies is such a wonderful person that it is impossible to play favorites. The children all get along great as well. I have been very encouraged since meeting all of them, especially since homesickness has really started to get Kevin and me down. It is awe-inspiring how the Lord knows exactly what you need and is there to provide it JUST WHEN you need it most (His perfect timing).

We have had a really hard time missing our Texas co-op since we left there early this past autumn when school started. Our co-op in Texas had over 23 families and had been in "operation" for a good many years before we joined up. It was nice to just "assimilate" and know exactly what to do without question. The gears were already turning smoothly and the leadership of our co-op was superb. We spent one fun-packed year with them and fell in love with the moms and kids before we had to move away. Our co-op was what you may call an "academic co-op" as well as a "mom's support group". Here are some of the things I liked best about our group and the schedule we kept:

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1. Every month, we set aside one day for a Mom's Meeting. This was usually on a Tuesday night from 7-? PM (or AM if those late-owls talked others into getting in trouble for coming home in the middle of the night). Moms meetings usually started with a prayer, previous meetings minutes read, business about the co-op discussed, open discussion between moms about the co-op and ideas presented, and then time to chat and share desert/coffee. Then, those who wanted to leave could go home while the rest would stay and scrapbook photographs in our co-op yearbook. We tried to be done before midnight, but occasionally, a few moms would stay up past their bed-times.

2. We met every Friday as a group - without dads usually (unless Mom couldn't bring the kids and then some of the dads would drop kids off or attend for the day).

  • The 1st Friday of the Month was FIELD TRIP FRIDAY. Pre-scheduled field trips were set up at the beginning of the year and we all met at the church building and followed each other to the event/field trip and usually brought along a sack lunch.
  • The 2nd Friday of the Month was PARK DAY/PLAY DAY. If it was sunny and the temperature was nice, we met at a park (not always the same park). If the weather was bad, we met at the church and played indoor games.
  • The 3rd and 4th Fridays of the Month were ACADEMIC FRIDAYS. Moms would rotate as teachers, cleaners, baby watchers, playground spotters, hallway runners, classroom helpers, planners, etc. The kids were separated by age group (babies, toddlers, 5-6, 7-9, 10-17) and we taught subjects like "Lifeskills" (sewing, cooking, checkbook, tire-changing, etiquette, etc.), Spanish, Ministry (puppetry, speaking, childcare, clowning, etc.), and Geography/History/Culture (which was on a different country each Month - 2 weeks per month, with only one teacher per country).
3. We met from 9am-12pm and usually followed each other to a fast food place afterwards or took a sack lunch to a nearby park to let the kids unwind.

4. We did a few fund-raising activities through the year to keep membership dues down. The money we earned was spent on craft supplies, copies, events, and our yearbook.

5. One of the moms had a husband who was a photographer, so we had our photos for the school-year taken at the church we met at. They were awesome pictures!

6. At the end of the year we had spiral-bound, full-color, scrapbooked yearbooks that were over 300 pages long.

7. The moms met for a Mom's Night Out and played laser tag and went to eat at a nice restaurant with some of the money set aside from our dues (this happened only ONCE for the school year).

8. When the school year wound down, the group put on a talent show and a slide-show set to Christian rock-pop music at a local church for the parents/grandparents/friends and others who wanted to come and see what great kids we all had. All those who wished to participate got to set up display tables of their personal homeschool projects for the school year (similar to a Science Fair).

9. We got great group-rates for field trips because of our group's numeric size.

10. The friendships we made are everlasting! When a mom had a hardship, we all were there to help her and pray with her.

11. Some of us got together to attend the annual homeschool book fair and we went to a theme park (just the moms) and rode roller-coasters and spent the night in a hotel together away from our families. I guess you could call this a "Christian Homeschool Mom's Ladies Retreat".
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Those are some of the great things about my previous homeschool co-op. I am looking forward to helping this small group of ladies here where we are planted. I pray that they will bloom into as wonderful a group as the one we had the honor of being a part of last year. Even though we miss our friends in Texas... we are very thankful for the ones we have met so far since homeschooling out-of-state. Sometimes God sends us outside of our comfort zones to help us grow into better Christians. I pray that this move we have made will benefit others as well as ourselves. Maybe, like J. F. Kennedy's famous quote, we should ask not what our homeschool co-op can do for us, but what we can do for our homeschool co-op? I pray God gives our fledgling group the wings to fly.

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10 comments:

buggymug said...

Wow, Bee, that sounds like an awesome group you were part of in Texas! I know you miss all of that so much. I'm sorry. ((hugs)) I'll keep the new group y'all are getting started in my prayers. I know it will be great! There is a group here that has been going for a long time, so I'm thankful that we'll have that to ease into when the time comes.

God bless you in all your endeavors!

~Bev~

Sheri said...

What a special group you were a part of. I think sometimes its so difficult to find those places you just 'fit' (but then I am still trying to find my place here in Oklahoma...sigh)

Sprittibee said...

Yes, my co-op in Texas was wonderful.. but this one can be just as great! Thanks for the prayers. I'll keep you in my prayers Sheri. You can always move to Arkansas!

FatcatPaulanne said...

I hope you have a great time with your new co-op!

Tammy Moore said...

Hi Sprittibee, I saw your blog on starting up a co-op and thought that I would tell you about what we are experimenting with - virtual homeschool co-op. We meet in a really amazing online classroom for classes and have a Moodle site for the classes too. It has been really neat. Go take a look at one of our courses at http://www.virtualhomeschoolgroup.com/vhsg/course/view.php?id=21. We have many more under development for summer and fall classes. It is a co-op too, just one that isn't bounded by how far you can drive. LOL. I have a blog too. It is at http://homeschoolblogger.com/armoorefam/. If you like the idea of what we are trying to do, want to join your co-op in?

Tammy Moore

Sprittibee said...

thanks paulanne!

tammy,
Your website looks interesting and the idea is great... however, I'm not high tech enough, it doesn't seem. I wasn't able to figure it out. Every "class" I clicked on said that there would be something placed there, but I never saw a video. A lot of the math that I saw was younger material that we've already covered, too. Our co-op here has decided to pretty much be on a fun-only basis. That means that we do park and field trip days, mom's meetings at the coffee shop, and share social gatherings like birthday parties and pool time. This is much easier on the moms. My co-op in Texas changed over this year after I left and they are doing more of a fun and social gathering approach now also. They said it was too much work for the moms who had to prepare and give lessons... and they all needed a break... so they are just meeting for mom's night and field trips/park days now also. It seems that it was taking a week to prepare before the classes and it stole time away from their academics at home... so they decided it wasn't worth it (even as fun and educational as it was).

MiraclesHappen said...

Thanks for posting this great message! Somehow God elected me to start a homeschool group in our new neighborhood last year. It was quite a stretch for me because it was only my first year homeschooling, although I had worked for a homeschooling company for nearly four years prior. I have "grand" ideas for our co-op but am a bit intimidated by the growth. I started it in February of last year and we currently have 40 families. They are wonderful women who are so supportive of one another and like-minded in our faith so it has been a great encouragement at the same time. I look forward to hearing more about your groups' activities!

Sprittibee said...

Miracles Happen - Wow. 40 is a lot! That's great. Right now our group is off for the summer, but we all get together and are great friends anyway. I think we'll do more this coming year than we have the last. We are all scheduled to start Attentiveness with KONOS in the fall... Birds, Senses, Orchestra and Composers, Tracking, Preditor and Prey, and Indians!

Karin Katherine said...

What you described is EXACTLY what I would have loved to be a part of. Well, it's a new year. Maybe it will happen this year? I will pray on it.

Sisterlisa said...

Heather, how can I create my own co-op?

 

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